Top 10 lactogenic food: Dates, food for breastfeeding

So why are dates such a great top 10 lactogenic food?


Top 10 lactogenic food: Dates | For breastfeeding Mums | Health Benefits of Dates | Organic Facts

Dates contain Tryptophan. Tryptophan is one of the 10 essential amino acids that the body uses to create the proteins it needs. In particular, tryptophan serves as a precursor for serotonin (our feel-good neurotransmitter). Seratonin supports the chemistry of lactation.

Serotonin counter-acts Dopamine, which suppresses Prolactin (needed for milk production). So anything that keeps Dopamine levels low, in turn keeps Prolactin levels high; thus making them lactogenic and helping to combat low milk supply. High tryptophan = high seratonin = high prolactin .

Along with a number of other foods, Tryptophan is particularly plentiful in dates.


100g of Dates provide 6.5% calcium RDI. Some women who are continuing to breastfeed after they have re-started menstruating have noted that they experienced lower milk production prior to their periods. Although this link has not formally studied, Patricia Gima (IBCLC) has reported calcium/magnesium supplements have helped several of her clients, often within 24 hours.

The history of dates as a top 10 lactogenic food

The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is a tree of western Asia and northern Africa that is cultivated also in the United States, South Asia, and Australia. It bears clusters of edible sweet fruit – dates.

Have dates always been considered a top 10 lactogenic food? In her book Mother Food, Hilary Jacobson tells us that dates were amongst some foods revered as the sacred plants of women in ancient times. She goes on to say that milk production removes sugar from the blood, which we need to replenish. (Which is why, mamas, we crave sweet things so much, and can’t stop eating chocolate bars!) However, we should stay away from refined sugars, and revert back to traditional systems of medicine from India and China. These say that naturally sweet food is particularly lactogenic and healthful, such as dates.

What else is great about this top 10 lactogenic food?

Generally all-round nutritious

They are a good source of various vitamins and minerals; a good source of energy, sugar and fiber; essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc; and finally vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.

Excellent source of iron and potassium

Dates are an excellent source of iron – about 11% of RDI in 100g. They are also an excellent source of potassium. 100 g contains 16% RDI. Potassium helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

An in-depth analysis of the nutritional value of medjool dates per 100 g, with thanks to ‘Nutrition And You’ – source: USDA National Nutrient data base.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 277 Kcal 14%
Carbohydrates 74.97 g 58%
Protein 1.81g 3%
Total Fat 0.15 g <1%
Dietary Fiber 6.7 g 18%
Folates 15 µg 4%
Niacin 1.610 mg 10%
Pantothenic acid 0.805 mg 16%
Pyridoxine 0.249 mg 19%
Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5%
Thiamin 0.050 mg 4%
Vitamin A 149 IU 5%
Vitamin K 2.7 µg 2%
Potassium 696 mg 16%
Calcium 64 mg 6.5%
Copper 0.362 mg 40%
Iron 0.90 mg 11%
Magnesium 54 mg 13%
Manganese 0.296 mg 13%
Phosphorus 62 mg 9%
Zinc 0.44 mg 4%

Happy and healthy

As you would expect, these super-nutritious sweet-treat fruits provide numerous health benefits such as help with: constipation, bone health and strength, intestinal disorders, anemia, allergies, weight gain, energy boosts, nervous system health, heart health, sexual health and stamina, night blindness, intoxication, diarrhoea and abdominal cancer.
To get your fix of this top 10 lactogenic food – dates, The Contented Calf Cookbook includes, amongst others, the following recipes containing dates:

  • Date, Coconut & Cardamom Porridge
  • Papaya, Mango & Coconut Salad (including dates)
  • Lamb & Date Tagine

And remember just register with us to get a 20% discount of all products bought on, and FIVE FREE breastfeeding recipes, all containing lactogenic foods.


References & Further Reading

[1] &

[2] Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs for a Mom & Baby’s Best Health (Rosalind Press – 2007)

[3], plus Mother Food.


[5], plus Mother Food.




This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 and is filed under Baby, Breastfeeding, Cookbook, Food, Lactogenic